Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge

Last year I was introduced to Goodreads. It's a great place to keep track of all the books I've read, and I really like it.

This year I discovered the 2011 Reading Challenge. Basically, everyone can set their own goal for how many books they want to read this year. We can then enter our goal, and Goodreads keeps track of our progress throughout the year.

2011 Reading Challenge

Sarita has

read 2 books toward her goal of 50 books.


Originally I put my goal as 101 books, but then I decided that that might be a little ambitious. Homework might get in the way of accomplishing that goal. So I scaled it back to 50 books. I figure 50 books should be pretty easy. After all, last summer alone I read 43 books. Don't believe me? Check out my summer reading list on Goodreads.

I've got a widget at the bottom of my posts so you can see my progress throughout the year. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Your help is needed

"Severe winter weather throughout much of the eastern half of the United States in recent weeks has already caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross . . . . In fact, the Red Cross says it has not seen its blood supply drop this dramatically at this time of year over the past ten years." *

I just got a call from the Red Cross asking for my help because they need blood. I cannot donate right now because I am not feeling well, and a person must be 100% healthy to donate. However, I assured the person who called me that I would help get word out there.

The Red Cross has issued a national appeal for blood, and they need your help. If you are eligible to donate, please do so. You can click here to find a place near you (if you're in the USA) to donate.

If you are uncertain about whether you are eligible to donate, click here. Note that just because you see something on the list doesn't mean it makes you ineligible. Acupuncture is the first thing on the list, but it's there just to clarify that it does not make you ineligible. :)

All blood types are needed, and it is easy to donate. I speak from experience.

* I grabbed this quote from this webpage.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's on my nightstand

I had an idea -- in addition to the "what I'm reading" posts, why don't I also have "what's on my nightstand" posts? I got this idea from someone who posted a photo on Facebook of the books on their nightstand.

Books tend to hang out a while even after I'm through with them, so just because they're on this list doesn't mean that I'm reading them right now. :)

The Burning Island
by Pamela Frierson

I got this for Christmas. It's a very nice book that talks about the volcanoes of Hawai'i, discussing both the natural history and the mythology.

The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. le Guin
science fiction

I was going to read this during winter break, but got side tracked by other books. It's a very good book about...well, there's no easy way to sum it up briefly. So I'll just say it's a good book. :)

The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth
by Ruth S. Noel

I grabbed this one during winter break because I was looking through old diaries of mine in which I used some elf words. I had to use this book to figure out what the heck I'd written. lol

Bartimaeus: The Amulet of Samarkan
by Jonathan Stroud

What happens when an eleven year old boy summons a five thousand year old djinn? A good story. By the way, my previous weekly book quote (which stayed up for maybe a month..oops) was from this trilogy. In case you don't remember what it was:

"Believe me, I know all about bottle acoustics. I spent much of the sixth century in an old sesame oil jar, corked with wax, bobbing about in the Red Sea. No one heard my hollers. In the end an old fisherman set me free, by which time I was desperate enough to grant him several wishes. I erupted in the form of a smoking giant, did a few lightning bolts, and bent to ask him his desire. Poor old boy had dropped dead of a heart attack. There should be a moral there, but for the life of me I can't see one."

by Garth Nix

Fun fun fun book. I listened to it...several months ago, I guess. It's been hanging out on my nightstand since then.

What's on your nightstand? :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Changing times

Books can be time capsules, of a sort. They show us how people used to live, and what their lives were like. Sometimes they even make us thankful that we live in the twenty-first century.

Yes, I do have a particular book in mind as I write this: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I got to thinking about it the other day, and especially George Whickam running off with Lydia Bennet.


In the book, Whickam runs off with Lydia. He is a grown man who is at least twenty five years old (older, I'm sure), and Lydia is a sixteen year old girl. Whickam tells Lydia that he will marry her -- this is a lie, incidentally -- and they live together in London for several weeks before being caught.

If this happened in this day and age, something like this would happen:

1) Mr. and Mrs. Bennet would demand the return of their daughter. Or I hope they would, anyways.
2) Whickam would be charged with abduction. I think.
3) Whickam would also be charged with rape because Lydia is not of legal age to give consent.

In Pride and Prejudice, however, the only option they see is to have Lydia married to Whickam as quickly as possible. They choose this course of action without any hesitation despite the fact that anyone who has any common sense knows that Whickam cannot be trusted, is a gambler, is in great debt, and is a scoundrel, to put it mildly. Yet despite knowing this, Mr. Bennet eagerly hands over his sixteen year old daughter to this b****** because he has bedded her, and the world knows it.

I was pretty shocked, when I took a step back from the novel, considered Lydia's age, and compared its plot to what would happen in the same situation today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"The Spell of the Sensuous" -- thoughts

Despite its title, it's not a romance.

I'm taking an environmental class this term, and this is one of the books. I've only read the forward and the first chapter, but I'm already fascinated by this book, and wanted to put down some random thoughts. Or rather, some random confusion.

In the first chapter of The Spell of the Sensuous David Abram tells a little bit about his travels. Specifically, his travels when he was studying how magic relates to healing. Along the way he talks all about magicians, sorcerers, and shamans.

Now here's the thing: Abram does a pretty good job of explaining what a shaman is, but not a magician or a sorcerer. I'm not sure if he is using the three words as synonyms, or if there is supposed to be a slight difference. Maybe it'll be clarified later on in the book, but at the moment I'm perplexed.

I do like to see his description of shamanism, though. It's not exactly how I view shamanism (I am a shaman practitioner myself, by the way), but it's nice to see it from a fresh perspective. I'll probably have to reread that chapter before I can comment further, though.

ps. Shamanism is in this book about the environment because shamans talk to nature spirits, and are supposed to be in tune with nature. In case you're wondering. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"The Road Not Taken"

I came across an analysis of Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Traveled on YouTube. I don't agree with everything (ok, most, if not all) of what is stated in the video, but I find it really interesting and it gives me a new perspective on the poem.

Because the video made me look at The Road Not Traveled in a new light I wanted to share it here, in case anyone else might want to see it.

To read the poem, just Google it or click here.

I've always read the poem as saying that the less taken road is preferable because it has not been explored by others. I've also taken "The Road Not Taken" to mean that other people did not choose his own path.

Of course, I'm only beginning to really taking a close look at the poem now. Ask me again in a few days and my take on it might be different.

What do you think? What does the poem mean to you?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Blank It"

Rather than talking about a book, I'm going to talk about a comic strip: Blank It.

Blank It is written by two characters, Aric McKeown and Lem Pew. Incidentally, the names of the two main characters in the strip are Aric and Lemmo.

Aric and Lemmo are in a very strange universe. The universe is a giant white nothingness with things popping up randomly, and objects don't always follow the usual rules of physics. For example, when they find a shovel and try to dig a hole in the ground. You'll have to read the strip yourself, though, if you want to know what happens with the shovel.

In addition to weird and wacky things happening, you get to see a friendship form between Aric and Lemmo. The two are strangers to begin with, and Lemmo manages to drive Aric crazy when they first meet. Somehow, though, they become friends.

Between the absurd universe, Lemmo's humor and Aric's practicality, seemingly random events, and a certain shovel, it is one wonderful comic strip. When I discovered it I could hardly put it down, and when I did put it down I quickly told my family about it. Now they, like me, are hooked.

The next time you need a laugh, I highly recommend that you check out Blank It.

Now, where to find it...

There is a book of Blank It comics, titled shirt...goes...down. And yes, everything you see on the cover may be found somewhere in the strip.

You can also visit the web site for the comic:, or go directly to the first strip here. I recommend starting at the beginning, since it's a story that builds on itself.

There is also an iPhone app for it, so you can read it and store the comic on your iPhone.

Last, a new strip is posted twice a week.

Happy readings! :D


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